Title: Bound by Their Secret Passion
Author: Diane Gaston
Series: Scandalous Summerfields #4
Genre: Regency Romance
Available: 1st April
A forbidden attraction… A hidden desire!
Years ago, penniless Lorene Summerfield wed for duty, giving her siblings the chance to marry for love. But now the generous-hearted countess finds herself widowed…and the man she’s loved in silence for years is falsely accused of her husband’s murder!
Although he closed his heart to love long ago, the Earl of Penford has always found Lorene irresistible. Their newly ignited passion may be scandalous, but now he’ll stop at nothing to clear his name and win Lorene’s hand!
Source: ARC from Mills and Boon Historical via NetGalley
Although this book starts off well, and certainly builds up the tension towards the end, I’m afraid I found most of it rather dull. Perhaps this is because I’ve not read any of the other books in the series, so was less invested in the drama of the Summerfields and their scandalous mother, but mostly I think it was because Lorene and Dell don’t get to spend much time together. Even when they do meet it’s usually for very short periods of time.
I also didn’t find Lorene particularly compelling as a heroine. She clearly cares a great deal for her family and her husband was awful, but she’s also a bit of a doormat, letting everyone walk all over her. I liked that she found an interest for herself in decorating and redesigning houses, but her self-sacrificing grew a little tiresome and I often wished she had a little more spark in her personality.
Sadly, Dell suffers from this too. He’s a nice man, who is still heartbroken over the loss of his whole family, which has made him understandably withdrawn. But he also mostly floats along through life, staying with the duke and letting him boss him around quite a bit. Dell does have a quiet strand of stubbornness, which he mostly uses to ignore the duke and duchess being snobby, but he and Lorene are both a bit too quiet and selfless to make for compelling reading.
Which is a shame, because they are very sweet together. It’s just that they aren’t together all that often, and the dramas of Lorene’s family completely overshadow the pair of them. Not to mention the scandal of her husband’s death. At times the plot wears extremely thin and I was constantly waiting for something more interesting to happen. When it finally does, though, it was too near the end and everything ended up sadly rushed, which left me feeling rather disappointed.
I felt this way about Lorene and Dell’s relationship too. For most of the book Dell barely acknowledges his feelings for her, and it takes forever for them to even kiss, but once that happens – bang – straight into an affair. It didn’t fit in with the slow pace of everything else.
So overall this was just okay for me. The slow and dragging plot left all the interesting stuff right at the end, throwing the pacing off completely, and the romance wasn’t as compelling as I’d hoped. Fans of this series will probably get more out of it, not least because they’ll get to see everyone happy and moving on with their lives. For me, though, it sadly didn’t live up to my expectations.
Bound by Their Secret Passion is out April 1st.
Visit Diane Gaston for more details.